Hey y’all! Today’s post is a response to some occasional reader comments I see here. I thought it would be helpful to write a blog on my exact feelings about how frugality and poverty are related.
I’ve seen a few comments on my posts about saving money on coffee, using Groupons, and packing your lunch to save money. It’s usually by one-off visitors to the site, but they raise an interesting point.
The jist of their comments is, “Well, yeah, this is easy for you to say. But what about the poor people? You can’t possibly know what they go through, and to suggest they save money by skipping Starbucks is a slap in the face.”
I’ve wanted to clarify this for a while, so here it is: This blog’s message is mostly for people who are looking for ways to save money on their variable / luxury expenses. Absolutely everyone is welcome here, but I’m writing from my own experience and background here, and I know very well that the advice isn’t going to work for everyone.
But what about privilege?
I’m a pretty damn privileged person. I’m white, had a pretty good upbringing, have a stable job, and have good health. It’s the financial jackpot!
I know people of color and differently-abled people face a LOT of challenges that I don’t have to face. I acknowledge that my path has been easy because of my privilege and background. I do think my savings tips here can be used by people from different backgrounds, but I acknowledge other people face barriers that I don’t encounter.
It would be insulting and disingenuous to write about the barriers people face without going through them myself. With that in mind, here’s why I know my frugality tips aren’t going to stop world poverty.
Why frugality doesn’t solve poverty
Money, money, money
It’s a lot easier to save money if all of your needs are already met. I’ve got a pantry full of SO MUCH FOOD right now that I could probably live off of it for a few weeks, if not months. I’ve got a full tank of gas in my functional, safe car. I have so many clothes to wear that I could go without doing laundry for a month.
You’d think I’d stop buying more of this crap, but I don’t. I still sneak in a few extra pairs of thrift store shoes every now and then. I have a lot of disposable income in my hands. This is mostly due to eliminating a lot of extra expenses that I realized were draining my disposable income.
Basically, I make more damn money than I know what to do with. That used to mean I blew it on fancy haircuts, manicures, and daily restaurant trips.
But people in poverty don’t have a big sack of Fun Money lying around. It’s much harder to earn enough cash to pay for food and rent when you’re poor. It’s harder to get a loan for a reliable car and even to set up an affordable bank account. There’s rarely enough money to cover basic necessities. And that’s why advice like “Just skip the Starbucks, y’all!” sounds like a snooty First World Problem to someone living in poverty.
You can’t save money if you don’t have money in the first place. There are other ways we can combat poverty, but frugality isn’t the answer.
The bottom line
Thanks for sticking around to listen to my rant, y’all. 🙂 I wanted to acknowledge that I know how lucky I am to live the life I have. I know that these money-saving tips aren’t going to pull people out of poverty. Poverty is a complex issue with so many factors, causes, and potential solutions. I do hope this blog helps people save money to live a more fulfilled life, but I know it’s not going to ring true for everyone.
We want to know: Do you think frugality is a solution for poverty?